How can I describe my (late) father?
He was a hard worker, a brave man, and a bully!
He ruled the town with a rod of iron. Lads who were causing trouble were far more afraid of him than of the police.
He worked on the beach in the summer as a longshoreman and life saver. He was the only person who would swim in to pull someone in trouble from the water.
Anyone disrupting the peace of others on the beach were taken into the sea and held under the water, brought up for a breath of air and then ducked again.
His nickname was Snakey and he was on his fourth generation of training youngsters to respect their elders. He would ask young children in the area if they had ben good or bad - if they had been good they got a sweet (candy) if they had been naughty they were told "I'll put you in my sack and take you down to the end of the pier to feed the fishes." Yet, when he went for his walks, never on regular footpaths, he was like the Pied Piper with loads of children going with him. They had a fear of him but loved him too.
Dad loved children, in fact he loved people and was always doing all he could to help others.
I well recall following him as he walked up a busy street in the town, he was reading his newspaper and looked like he was not paying attention.
There was a group of six or seven teenage lads coming towards him, they were fooling around but not getting in anyone's way. Dad stepped into a shop doorway and as they went past he thumped them - the lads were rolling on the ground if he got them in the leg or rubbing their arms. Dad continued up the road reading whilst the lads called out, "Snakey, one of these days you will be in a bath chair and we'll take you to the top of the Cascade (a very steep hill to the beach) and let you go with no brakes!'
Tourists looked in amazement thinking that it was the youngster that mugged the elderly (dad was in his 70's at the time) not the other way round.
Having said all that, someone presented a challenge cup for the person who did the most for others in the town. Nominations came from the residents and then it was the same for the voting. Dad won it for four years running.
In his nineties he was shopping for several elderly people who could not get to the shops.
Dad died 2 years ago. It was thought he had a stroke but he had a brain tumour. Even in hospital he was trying to get things for others and his humour was still strong.
His funeral was packed out. Some of the now married lads, had travelled from across the world to attend (two came from Hong Kong and India) as the hearse travelled through the town shoppers and shop keepers lined the pavement to show their respect. A thing not done nowadays.
Dad had been a Pall Bearer (carried coffins at funerals) for many years and one thing he always thought was a waste were wreaths. We told people no flowers so there was only one wreath from the family. The only florists in the town knew his thoughts on wreaths and I had remarked, when we were ordering that he would rather have vegetables. When the coffin came down the aisle the wreath of white lilies had carrots, cauliflowers and other veg woven into it. Dad would have loved it.
I miss him and his ways and I know I am not the only one.